Turn Off and Be Free

It may be time to free ourselves from the tyranny of technology. Or as Bob Herbert put it in his New York Times column on July 17: “Tweet Less, Kiss More.”

In his column, Herbert tells a story of a woman driving past him on Interstate 95 at high speed, swerving in and out of lanes, and talking on her cellphone the entire time she was pulling these ultra-fast maneuvers. He also tells a story about a guy who commutes with his laptop propped up on the front seat so that he can watch DVDs while he commutes. (What I wanted to know is what does he watch — episodes of The Office to psyche himself into the proper mood for his workday? Or maybe Fast and the Furious? That could be useful in his driving and his work.)

Herbert goes on to point out that an awful lot of us have become addicted (my word, not his) to technology. Our mobile phones seem to be at our ears 93% of our waking hours. Blackberries have been called Crackberries because their users can’t seem to put them down. Without naming names, I know for a fact that this happens. A certain party I live in very close contact with frequently checks her Blackberry before her morning coffee, at almost every opportunity during the day, and then again just before she goes to sleep. I’ve begun to wonder if our health insurance will cover a Crackberryectomy. I’m pretty sure there’s one coming in our future.

People check e-mail all the time. I confess: I do this even on weekends and holidays. (Note to self: Who the hell do you think is going to e-mail you on Christmas? Santa Claus is busy! Everyone else is convinced you’re on the Naughty list.)

As Herbert writes, “I just think that we should treat technology like any other tool. We should control it, bending it to our human purposes.” Implicit in his statement, at least for me, is that for most of us, technology is in control.

Hollywood has long had doomsday movies where supercomputers attempt to control humans. These movies usually revolve around the computers using weapons of mass destruction to wipe out humankind. But as the poet T.S. Eliot said, the world ends with a whimper not a bang. Technology isn’t going to wipe us out, it’s slowly going to enslave us.

What’s the solution? Herbert says to leave the mobile phone at home. Unplug your computer once in a while. Be with other people. Listen to other people. Tweet less, kiss more.

Anybody out there opposed to more kissing in his or her life?

I didn’t think so. Okay, let’s get going, people . . . !

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One Response to Turn Off and Be Free

  1. Or, to paraphrase the “poet” “tune out, turn off, drop in”.

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